Monday, August 22, 2011

90 Weeks and Counting

So one of my cohorts figured it was 90 weeks till we get "hooded" - which to me sounds barbaric - but really it means that in 90 weeks, I get to make people call me "Dr."  I finish my PhD and cross another goal off my long bucket list! 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

What Have We Become?

Last night's party was epic.  Not necessarily in the best way, though.  The cops were called, the fire trucks, the ambulance, fightin' words, thrown rocks, all piercing what should have been a night of celebrating summer and friendship and all that is great about our lives.  Ignorant neighbors and emotions that could no longer be contained lead to a bitter feud that grew uglier as the night wore on.  I am frightened of ignorant people, you simply do not know how they will react to a situation.  I am not foolish enough to believe that a shooting or stabbing can't happen in my world.

As I stood back in the shadows, away from the dangerous drama that was unfolding around the fire pit, I was confronted by a friend and challenged on my food passions.  I was taken aback as he tried to present his side of the story, telling me I was wrong and extremist.  I listened, as I do anyone whom I respect, because I want to be informed and educated.  But as the night wore on, and all day today on the drive back home, this conversation continues to bother me, even though we left it as "are we cool?"  I think the issue, though, is that I was willing to listen and accept that bashing the enemy is probably not the best approach, but he was not willing to listen to me and accept the research I've done in the past five years, research performed by competent, ethical researchers who report the results fairly and aren't paid for the answers.  We have a severe problem with our food supply, one that is documented and all but linked as causal, not merely correlational.  And the government sponsors lobbyists and big business to research and report that the chemicals, the antibiotics, the hormones, are not harmful.  I simply can't accept this, given the research I've read over and over again.  If I'm passionate, it's because I think people deserve to hear the message, just as the researchers and authors who have brought it to me have done.

My personal experience has been that I am healthier because my family always cooked, always had a garden, and taught me about nutrition.  I am never sick.  Ever.  As I learn more about sustainable food and ethical treatment of not only animals, but the people working to raise and process them, I have a responsibility to myself and those I love to feed them right.  My lesson learned is to be careful of my audience, and perhaps stop preaching to those who don't want to be converted.  My lesson is to put my money and time and energy into helping those who share my beliefs. 

But it doesn't stop here.  As I read CNN online, I shake my head at the violence, senseless acts of irreparable damage done by people, whose emotions have overcome logical thought.  It's a scary world, and I want to do what I can to make it a better place.  This might mean stepping off my soapbox more often, and learning to live my passions through sheer solitary bliss. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Today, for some reason, I feel like I've "arrived."  I'm here.  I did the decadent luxury of all luxuries, dreamed of by little girls and housewives everywhere - I hired help.  Yes, that's right, I hired someone to clean my house.  I can't even explain the delight I faced when entering into my home, that was meticulous before we moved in four years ago, and hasn't been ever since.  I am not a house-cleaner.  I hear it skips every two generations, since my grandma and my mom are both the most immaculate people I've ever known.  The house is brighter, the windows are clean; she left the blinds wide open so the sunlight is pouring through the usually-dark living room, making me realize the many things that made me fall in love with this house four years ago.

Along with the feeling that my house is clean (before my mother-in-law comes to visit next week!), I have this immense sense of relief.  Staunch feminist that I am, I gave up years ago nagging husbands to help with housework.  The ones I've chosen are not wired for it, and I've chosen to stop fighting.  My husband now, however, has many great qualities that warrant me not nagging to help with housework.

Now the other side of the feminist perspective that I will address is this - how could I hire someone to seemingly repress them into the things that I don't want to do?  Is this another form of slavery?  I argue that it's not.  And here's why.  I hired a woman who runs a business and helps other women with gainful, dignified employment.  We all have talents, and cleaning houses should not be dismissed as anything less than vitally important.  And helping women succeed in business makes me feel good.  I think it's good for everyone involved.  I can continue to work at a job that I make more complex, and chip away at my PhD degree with the comfort that my house is clean, and I'm supporting independent women.  I couldn't be more at peace tonight as I bake a decadent chocolate cake for a dinner party tomorrow with fabulous friends.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Castle on a Cloud

After a beautiful night of dinner and wine with a spectacular girlfriend, I find myself thinking how wonderful my life is turning out to be.  I found Les Miserables on public TV and was brought back to memories from high school.  This is the 25th Silver anniversary show in London, which means I was 10 when it first appeared on Broadway.  I'm not old.  I love my birthday.  I embrace 36, which is just around the corner.  I owe all my Broadway love to my music teacher from elementary school through high school.  Mrs. Limoges. We lived in a small town, a quite humble, blue collar town, where there were no fast food restaurants (which really explains how I am healthy today - not growing up around the terrible food!), no theatres, and no culture.  She brought culture to her students.  She's glamorous and classy, and I was so happy to run into her a couple years ago, living just a couple towns from me now.  Swing choir was the coolest group for which to be selected in our high school because of her leadership, and I was fortunate enough to be a part of it every year since it started in the fifth grade.  She exposed us to Broadway, a whole world outside of our small Wyoming town.  She showed us what it meant to be sophisticated and classy and discerning, and years later I realize how profound her impact was on us.  I love Broadway.  She was the reason I dragged my husband to Manhattan for vacation, to see the Phantom of the Opera on a real NYC Broadway stage, the reason I corral my girlfriends into my Yukon for a day trip to Salt Lake City to see reproductions of musicals.  And tonight, as I watched Les Miserables, I remembered my piano, forlornly sitting to the side of my large living room, untouched, save a monthly watering of a withering plant on it, in several months.  Tonight I broke out the Les Miz and Phantom sheet music and played away, rusty at first, but then it all came back to me.  I remembered my best friend, who died over a decade ago, who loved the music as much as I did.  I forgot about my boss e-mailing me about something she wanted me to screw up on, which is really her sole purpose in life, and I let it all go.  Music can do that to you.  And I thank Mrs. Limoges, who gave me the power to live through music, to be cultured and find new things to inspire me, to forget about the miniscule people in my life who only feel threatened by me for naught.  I'm really a good person who wants others to succeed, too! And as I played again, my fingers produced all the happiness I felt for what my life has become.  My husband called to wish me good-night, and that was the best part of the whole night.  We haven't been together in over a week, and I find myself so excited to see him tomorrow. 

I am living a dream.  One that I merely dared to dream most of my life.  I complain, I have challenges, sure, we all do.  But I know, just about every day of my life, that I am one of the lucky ones.  And I don't for one moment take it for granted.  I am living on my own castle on a cloud.